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It’s the nominal New Year’s Holiday, which means … nothing here at BN. It’s just another day full of Chicago Cubs news and rumors. But we can watch college football while we discuss them. The latest on Prince Fielder and Matt Garza later today, but, until then, Bullets of an equally rumorish disposition …

  • The Chicago Cubs continue to have interest in Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (and Jorge Soler), who could finally reach free agency as soon as this week. The sense you get on how much Cespedes will get is something in the $40 to $50 million range (over six years, presumably), and Soler will probably get about $20 million (most of which will probably be a signing bonus). The same article notes that the competition for the duo will be serious, and will include a large number of teams, which could now include the other team in Chicago, after they saved some money moving Carlos Quentin. There aren’t many opportunities to acquire big-time young talent for nothing more than money – and it’s only going to become more difficult starting next year – so here’s hoping the Cubs bid aggressively.
  • A number of folks speculated/suggested/wondered about the Cubs’ signing of two other Cuban prospects last week, and how that might impact their pursuit of Cespedes and Soler. After all, the adjustment from Cuban life to American life can be among the more difficult transitions, and maybe the Cubs are bringing in some friends to help Cespedes and Soler along? Sorry to be a buzz kill, but I just don’t see it. First, Cespedes and Soler are – wisely – going to take the offer from the highest bidder. Obviously this isn’t a posting system, so they don’t have to take the high bid, but, given that this may be their only chance to cash in, they’d be foolish to leave money on the table – a point I’m certain their respective representatives will make clear to them. Second, the levels in the Cubs’ organization that Cespedes and Soler would be playing at (perhaps AAA and/or the bigs for Cespedes, and maybe High A for Soler) are higher than the levels at which Balaguert and Martinez will make their debuts. In other words, there’s no reason to believe that Cespedes and Soler would even see the other guys the Cubs signed, let alone be around them enough to help with their adjustment to the U.S. Indeed, the only connection I see here? The Cubs are looking to pick up as much quality international amateur talent as they can right now. That’s it.
  • Andre Ethier for the Cubs? Phil Rogers thinks so, even if it doesn’t make much sense. “Andre Ethier, who is one year away from free agency, is high on Theo Epstein’s wish list. He’s the type of guy the Cubs president might look to acquire at midseason in the hope of keeping him around, like the Reds did with their surprising trade for Scott Rolen in 2009.” The Cubs are expected to be weak in 2012, making an Ethier acquisition unlikely. Further, if Ethier is traded midseason, he can no longer qualify for draft pick compensation if he leaves in free agency. That means the price the Dodgers could get for him at the trade deadline would be depressed, particularly from a team like the Cubs would probably wouldn’t need him for a postseason push. This suggestion of a trade – as opposed to the Cubs maybe pursuing Ethier next offseason – is plainly bizarre.
  • The Tribune’s David Haugh says the Cubs’ WGN TV contract expires in 2014, and the CSN contract in 2019. The latter expiration date had been rumored (but, frankly, I’d hoped it was much earlier). It’s fair to wonder now whether the Cubs won’t have any games on WGN after 2014, and instead will make a little more money by shifting coverage almost exclusively to CSN, with an eye toward their own network in 2020. Obviously a lot can happen in the intervening years, so it’s probably not worth speculating too rampantly at this point.
  • The Chicago sports year in review video from ESPN.
  • George Offman says the Cubs might be interested in bringing Japanese star, and former Cubs outfielder, Matt Murton back to the States. Murton, 30, is one of the best hitters in Japan, and was a relatively average hitter when he played in the US in his mid-20s. He could probably be a decent 4th outfielder, but the Cubs’ outfield is starting to look a bit crowded already, with DeJesus, Byrd, Soriano, Sappelt, Johnson, Campana, and Jackson already available as options, and the Cubs still considering someone like Coco Crisp. Think the Cubs are planning to move Soriano and/or Byrd? Yes. It seems rather obvious at this point.
  • Matt Murton

    YESSSSS

    • LARRY

      NOOOOO

    • scorecardpaul

      help me out here. The Matt Murton I remember was low to average defensively, no power, all batting average bat,and very very slow.  now will he just be flat out slow and bad all around?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Your memory is accurate. He could be slower now, but he could also – in theory – be a slightly better hitter. It’s possible.

        • EtotheR

          I think that could be an accurate guess, Brett from Bleacher Nation. I do recall his reputation for staying in shape, which might help his longevity. He does feel like the kind of guy who could become a professional pinch hitter…a la Lenny Harris, Jose Vizcaino, etc.

          By the way…Jose Vizcaino got a hit in every at-bat of his that I ever saw. The sampling size had to be well over 200 ABs. Had I been able to get this information to him, I think I could have cashed in on what would have been a far more lucrative career for the man.

          Every single at bat.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Every single at bat … except those he took early in his career in a Cubs uniform.

            • EtotheR

              Nope…the hits he got were in the games I was watching.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                You need to get an avatar, by the way.

                • EtotheR

                  Hmmm…perhaps a presence is in order.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    If this means the return of Thunder Matt’s Salon I’m all for it!

  • Katie

    His traffic cone orange hair has been missed, but the rest of him? Not so much. I really rooted for him when he got called up. Maybe he’d be better now with a little seasoning?

  • ty

    Japan can be a finishing school for fast ball hitters as they are exposed to a myriad of off speed and pitching motions. Good history of guys returning and having good pinch-hitting careers. No room for Matt with Reed all ready signed. l

  • JR1908

    The whole pt. of Rogers speculating about the Cubs getting Ethier at the deadline is crazy. The type of prospects the Cubs would have to give up for half a season in a rebuilding yr. is nuts. I like Ethier a lot, but what is Rogers thinking?? Sounds like he pulls stuff right out his backside to try and make news..

  • Shawn

    How is Phil Rohers still allowed to speculate about anything? It kills me that people who apparently have no sports knowledge continue to become respected writes – Rogers, Levine, Muskat…

  • Mayor1969

    George Ofman is a moron. If he says 2+2=4, I’m grabbing a calculator and double-checking.

    • art

      agree, lol. same with Rogers.

  • ferrets_bueller

    The only way i could see Murton back on the Cubs is if he made the transition to 1B. Because as much as i love the guy…I don’t want to see  him playing OF, lmao.

  • Ashley

    I want games to stay on WGN as much as possible, I am at school and don’t get Comcast!

    • Ryan

      I also hope games stay on WGN. I just have a feeling that the Cubs will form their own network and I won’t get to watch them unless they are on Fox or ESPN

      • ReiCow

        I agree with the Cubs on WGN.. though the Rickets likely can’t milk WGN for as much as a Cubs Network might bring in, WGN gives the Cubs national exposure. WGN is in basic cable packages all over the country, whereas a Cubs network would not be. Some of us are fans largely due to the Cubs being the only team that regularly played on tv (outside of the Braves) when we were kids, and that pipeline to new fans would be lost if they left WGN.

  • OHBearCub

    The cable companies need to allow viewing of games out of market. Ihave can Chicago on my channel guide but its always blacked out I would be happy to pay for a package to watch my cubs on CAN as well as WGN.

    Maybe Murton platoons at 1st base with Lahair.

  • jim

    Murton did not get good chance. “we gotta play holly” i can still hear dusty. No trusty!

  • mark

    Why would Murton leave Japan where he is considered somewhere between a man and a God to be a possible 4th outfielder/spot hitter. I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond

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